Friday, December 14, 2007

Valuing Books More Than Numbers

Dear Friends,

Long time without writing. Been doing some living, and some reflecting. Some wonderful things to share.

Straight Into Gay America:
I remember writing this book in the winter of 2005 and coming to the point of not caring if a single person bought the book – I was putting down the words I needed to get out.

That throw-it-to-the wind feeling about sales lasted until publication when I dropped back down to valuing my work based on how many books I was selling. Even the national publishing awards didn’t take me out of this non-productive numbers game.

I’ve been settling up with this feeling – “why do I internalize my value of this book by the sales numbers???” On and off, I’m letting go of this, moving towards choosing and honoring the whole incredible experience, of writing, riding, and sharing Straight Into Gay America.

One of the greatest blessings of the book has been the pushing and pulling it worked for my dad and me. Way back the first time Ronald Reagan ran for president I voted him in, same as my dad. Ever since then I’ve been diverging more and more from his political views. I thought that was just going to be the cost of my Straight Into Gay America advocacy. Attending a Landmark Forum ( weekend I realized how I’d put my dad in an ideological box and there was so much more to him I wanted to enjoy, and I wanted my family to enjoy of him. What a breakthrough. For his 75th birthday I made a list of 75 things that inspire me about my dad and which I love about my dad. Felt so good to send that to him for his birthday. Our visit this fall felt the best in many, many years.

One Wheel – Many Spokes:
I’m letting go of that numbers thing with One Wheel, too. With two publishers weekly reviews of my book, a professional publicist, and big dreams, I printed 10,000 copies of that book. (Books are way way cheaper when you print big numbers…but you have to sell the books.) I sold 3,000 of the books and still have some 5,000 at a distribution center.

These days I work with hundreds of authors, helping them create websites to share their writing dreams with the world. I tell them that the first book is often “learner fees.” Finally I’m willing to listen to my own words. What a great learning One Wheel – Many Spokes has been for me:

o Making a difference in readers lives
o Learning to publish a book
o Learning the publishing industry
o 3 national publishing awards
o Getting my job working with authors.
o Making a home in Chelan, WA.
o A Guinness Record for fun.
o A surfeit of books for a reality check.

Book Sale: I’m cleaning out the distribution center. If you’re interested in buying the remaining copies of One Wheel – Many Spokes, make me an offer. You can market the books, sell the books, or use them any way you wish in your organization. Highest offer wins (buyer pays shipping.)

Wow it feels good to clear up these books and move on to the next adventure.

Life in Chelan:
Kids are 11 and 13 this year. Teenage fun. That first cross-country unicycle ride they were 5 and 7 years old – a whole different life back then for them. Now its sports and school and music and friends for them. Every day I’m amazed I get to be their dad.

Anne is working again. The middle school called up and asked for Anne’s special ed skills this year. She’s working with some great students and we’re all loving the stories she brings home from the day. Both Anne and I attended Landmark Forum this summer and found it opening so much insight and possibility for our lives. 17 years of marriage. Love gets better and better and better.

We’re doing some skiing with friends this Christmas break, and looking forward to the blessings of the coming year. May it be a year filled with gifts for each of you. Thank you for sharing in the journey of life.

Thank you for the emails and letters that let me know about your living.


Saturday, June 02, 2007

Å Surprise Award for Straight Into Gay America

Thank you for the many emailed congratulations. Each letter brings a good memory. Here's a surprise.

Judging committees send notices to authors who reach the finalist category. Then those who are able show up at the ceremony to discover the final rankings. Yes, I'd submitted Straight Into Gay America for Foreword Magazine's Book of the Year awards. But having received no communication from Foreword I showed up at the ceremony just to enjoy the show.

The publisher sitting next to me was biting her nails. She was a finalist. When the Gay/Lesbian category came up the presenters projected the covers of the books for the bronze and the silver awards, two books I had not known before. Then the gold medal winner was announced, a complete surprise, my book was on the screen, Straight Into Gay America.

There's a spam filter somewhere in cyber space that knows I got a finalist notice from Foreword. Thanks to showing up at the awards, now I know it too.

A few hours later I was at the IPPY awards, a packed basement lounge in Manhattan's theater district. Loud and raucous, I received a bronze medal, the third award for Straight Into Gay America. As far as I know, that's all.

This morning I head back to Book Expo for another day of swimming in books. It's a staggering showing, filling all the space in the Javits exhibition hall. Lots of thoughts are stirring. I'll get back to you with more when I return home on Monday.


Friday, June 01, 2007

Book Awards for Straight Into Gay America

The biggest compliments I get for writing Straight Into Gay America sound like this,"You write as if you were a gay man. It's as if you've told my own story."

Last night Publishers Marketing Association awarded Straight Into Gay America the Benjamin Franklin Award for best book in the Gay/Lesbian category. This recognition from the writing community moved me more deeply than I had expected (yes, there were three finalists and then an announcement, so it was a surprise.).

Tonight Straight Into Gay America receives a second award, this one an IPPY from Independent Publishers Association- no suspense this time, it will be a bronze in the Gay/Lesbian category.

Writers. Authors. Publishers. These have always seemed liked other people, people who are not me. Last night, in New York City, riding the subway with the heavy glass award resting in my lap, I felt author identity come a step closer to my life. It was a beautiful night, savoring the feeling, recalling all the blessings of the ride, the people, and the creating of Straight Into Gay America.

Thank you,


Monday, May 21, 2007

Laramie Project Gets a Life

My Little Town – Laramie Project to live on.

This is a fun note to share…

Last time I wrote I shared that The Laramie Project was playing here in our little town of Chelan, Washington. In this town with no history of LGBT equality work, The Laramie Project sold out most of its performances.

One attendee, a high school student, saw the play three times. The high school student emailed the principal about the play. The principal emailed the director of the play, “Can you perform at our high school?” Tomorrow morning The Laramie Project will perform for the entire 11th grade class at Chelan high school.

Another of the attendees was from Idaho. She asked, “Can you perform The Laramie Project in my home town?”

I was talking to the director a few days ago. Looks like all of the Laramie Project actors are willing to keep the play alive, and to make it a resource when other schools and towns request a performance.

I’m thankful to share this good news.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Laramie Project

Our town of Chelan is putting on The Laramie Project Play for three weeks. Eight actors play 80 different characters from Laramie Wyoming. The entire script was created from two years of interviewing town members after young gay Matthew Shepherd was tied to a fence-post, beaten, left stranded for eighteen hours, and then died in the hospital from injuries and exposure.

Big Event for a Small Town
After a year-and-a-half of living in town I know a couple more LGBT residents, but still very few. As I've written before, living in Chelan is very different from the time spent on my Straight Into Gay America Tour. Watching The Laramie Project right here in Chelan has a special feeling. An attendee from last week calls it one of the most significant events for out little town in a long, long time. If you're close to this area either of the next two weekends, perhaps you'll want to attend. (Info at

See a Video Clip
If you're not close to this area, the cast YouTubed a couple of video clips from the play.

Straight Into Gay America Documentary
In conjunction with The Laramie Project, I'll be showing my Straight Into Gay America Documentary next Tuesday Evening at 7:00 p.m. It will show in the 1914 vintage Ruby Theater. It's a free showing, but donations will be accepted in hopes of starting a Chelan PFLAG organization.

Good wishes for the day,

Friday, April 20, 2007

NYC and US Congress Honor Equality Riders

Here's good news from

Soulforce Equality Ride Honored in U.S. House of Representatives

The 2007 Soulforce Equality Ride has been honored by the House of Representatives and written into the congressional record. On Monday, April 16, Rep. Jerrold L. Nadler of New York addressed a tribute to the Equality Ride and its Riders to the Speaker of the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

"Madam Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to an extraordinary group of young adults -- The Equality Riders -- who have dedicated 2 months of their lives, traveling thousands of miles, visiting 32 colleges and universities around the country and talking to countless students, faculty members and staff in pursuit of social justice.

The spirit of The Equality Ride was born out of the recognition that homophobia is globally pervasive and that no country, state, city, community or school escapes its reach. The Equality Ride offers a unique opportunity for student activists to dedicate their time and energy in the pursuit of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered equality through the practice of nonviolent resistance and educational campaigns.

I embrace the spirit of The Equality Ride and these leaders in the fight for social justice. The participants of the Equality Ride as well as its supporters have changed numerous lives, raised awareness and challenged notions regarding homosexuality through both on and off campus activities.
While conducting their work on the various campuses, riders confront some of their harshest critics and engage in structured dialogue with the academic community through classroom presentations, panel discussions, school-wide forums and film screenings as well as informal interactions. Outside of the college and university campuses, communities have welcomed the riders to share in worship, potlucks, fundraisers and meetings.

I applaud these riders and their supporters who have tirelessly waged a campaign of truth based on the nonviolent practices of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi to end the cycle of fear and misunderstanding that causes this vicious form of prejudice. As the Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, it is my great honor to pay tribute to these visionary young people and congratulate them on their courage, determination and dedication."

New York City Issues Proclamation Recognizing the 2007 Soulforce Equality Ride

The City Council of New York honored the Equality Riders on Saturday, April 14, with an official proclamation.

Whereas: The Council of the City of New York is pleased and proud to honor Soulforce on the occasion of its 2nd Annual Equality Ride; and

Whereas: It is the tradition and custom of the New York City Council to honor those individuals and organizations that have enriched us with their contributions, and today we are delighted to recognize the brave participants of the Soulforce Equality Ride for their tireless devotion to the fight against homophobia; and

Whereas: The purpose of the Soulforce Equality Ride is to travel to various religious colleges and engage the students, faculty and administrators in a conversation about the damaging effects of homophobic doctrine; and
Whereas: We proudly celebrate the 50 young adults who have dedicated two months of their lives, traveled thousands of miles, and visited a total of 32 colleges and universities around the country in the pursuit of social justice as it pertains to freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from religious and political oppression; and

Whereas: The participants of the Soulforce Equality Ride will pursue their goal through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance; and

Whereas: Homophobia is globally pervasive and no country state, city, community or school escapes its reach. We recognize the damaging effects of homophobic doctrine - the false notions that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender identities are sick and sinful - and we applaud these participants and their supporters who have waged a campaign of truth in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi; and

Whereas: We embrace the spirit of the Soulforce Equality Ride and its empowered participants, who have changed countless lives, created an environment of understanding, and liberated the oppressed; and

Whereas: It is with profound gratitude that we recognize the participants of the Soulforce Equality Ride for all they have done on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people throughout our nation. Their passionate advocacy is instructive and they are worthy of the esteem of all New Yorkers; now, therefore

Be it known: That the Council of the City of New York honors Soulforce and recognizes the exceptional service of the 2007 Equality Ride participants.
Signed this 14th day of April in the year Two Thousand and Seven

Christine C. Quinn, Speaker - For the Entire Council
Rosie Mendez, Council Member 2nd District, Manhattan

Help the Riders reach their sponsorship goals during this final week of their journey

From the news above and the inspiring stories over the past six weeks, the 2007 Equality Ride has been a huge success. Yet as we know, the road to LGBT equality is not an easy one. Activist work on this scale comes with real expenses.
To help pull together the necessary funds to cover the Equality Ride, each of the 52 Riders set a goal of raising $3,500. The Riders have been out there on the front lines since early March and they continue to work hard, with seven more schools to visit before coming home. During this final week, can you help those who are still working to reach their sponsorship goal?

To view the Riders who need additional supporters to reach their goal click here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Seattle Declares Equality Ride Day


I've been following the two bus tours of the 50 young people who are travelling our nation and asking for audiences at schools that discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. At times there has been good conversation. Far too often there have been arrests.
And then this... Seattle declares April 11 as Equality Ride Day. And our state legislature just approved domestic partner benefits. What a feeling of sunshine!!! Here's the Soulforce announcement and the text of the proclamation for all of us to celebrate. Go riders, go!

Seattle Proclaims April 11 as Equality Ride 2007 Day
City Abhors Discrimination, Prejudice and Oppression Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

After successful stops at three West coast Christian colleges, Equality Riders arrived in Seattle this week to visit two local schools that discriminate against LGBT students. Yesterday, Equality Riders teamed up with Equal Rights Washington, statewide advocacy organizations, and Q Center at the University of Washington, to address marriage equality with community members in Gasworks Park. Today the Equality Ride will engage with both Northwest University and Seattle Pacific University in a full day of programming, which includes discussion panels, classroom visits, presentations, communal meals and worship.

In honor of the Equality Riders' visit to Seattle, the City Council has proclaimed Wednesday, April 11, 2007, to be "Equality Ride Day" in the City of Seattle.

A PROCLAMATION recognizing Equality Ride 2007 in Seattle

WHEREAS, the City of Seattle is a welcoming city to diversity, including those who identify as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender;

WHEREAS, the City of Seattle abhors discrimination, prejudice and oppression based on sexual orientation and gender identity, among other protected classes under city, state and federal statutes;

WHEREAS, fifty young adults on two buses traveling across the nation are using nonviolent means to raise awareness about the discrimination, prejudice and oppression Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender people may face;

WHEREAS, the City of Seattle recognizes the historical significance of bus tours and their ability to create conversation about difficult issues and create reflection within a community;

WHEREAS, the West Coast bus tour of the Soulforce Equality Ride 2007 will share their message of inclusion and tolerance within the boundaries of the City of Seattle;

WHEREAS, some of our city's most respected organizations and businesses, such as Multifaith Works, Equal Rights Washington and the Seattle Gay News are hosting the West Coast bus tour here in Seattle;

WHEREAS, Soulforce, the sponsor of Equality Ride 2007, is a non-profit social justice organization made up of many faith traditions, including those with no belief in a deity; NOW,

Wednesday, April 11, 2007 shall be "Equality Ride 2007 Day" in the City of Seattle.
Adopted by the City Council the 11th day of April, 2007, and signed by us in authentication of its adoption this 11th day of April, 2007.

Council President Nick Licata
Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, Sponsor
Councilmember Sally J. Clark, Sponsor
Councilmember Richard Conlin
Councilmember David J. Della
Councilmember Jan Drago
Councilmember Jean Godden
Councilmember Richard J. McIver
Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck

To view a copy of the official proclaimation go to

To help fund the final two weeks of the 2007 Soulforce Equality Ride click here.

The goal of Soulforce is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance.
Thank you for your continued interest in the important work that Soulforce is doing. You received this email at because you are subscribed to the Soulforce Email List.

To read past Soulforce email alerts go to

If you received this email from a friend, you can sign up for the Soulforce email list by going to

To donate to the ongoing work of Soulforce please go to
Soulforce, Inc., P.O. Box 3195, Lynchburg, VA 24503